Yes, this is a political post. Although I’d prefer to think of it as a post not about politics but of character. Human character and simply doing the right things. Donald Trump has now surpassed the 100 day mark. I did not vote for Trump. And for those of you assuming I am a die hard liberal democrat, don’t be so quick to judge people. While I certainly have liberal tendencies, I am much more of an independent when it comes to casting my vote. I vote based on research and records and what I believe makes the most sense for our country holistically, regardless of party affiliation…as no candidate is going to be perfect. I also believe our system, in general, needs some serious overhaul. We have a system that has no federal term limits aside from the President. We have created a two party system with ‘lifers’ who spend more time jockeying to stay in their elected seats than they do working for the people who elected them. That’s not to say all politicians are bad. It is to say that we have lost the fundamental purpose of our government body. As an armchair quarterback, I realize it’s much easier for me to sit here professing solutions versus actually implementing them. With that being said, I still believe we need term limits for all positions. In addition, we need to look at the congressional maps and eliminate the massive amounts of gerrymandering that has occurred over the years. Lastly, whatever laws the congress passes to impact the American people should be the same laws they follow. For example, you change healthcare or retirement plans or whatever, you follow the plans of the people – not some carve out for your special elite asses. You aren’t special. You were elected by the American People to work for them, and are paid by them.
In the past, even when the President I voted for didn’t win, I never felt that the person in power was so unqualified that they would do something, intentional or otherwise (just as dangerous), to damage our country beyond repair. Yet, during Trump’s campaign and his first 100 days, Trump has succeeded in creating that kind of despair. Whether he can create the kind of damage to validate that despair is still to be determined as I remain somewhat hopeful that our branches of government, judicial system and that pesky thing called our constitution, can control some of his proposed insanity from occurring. But just as frightening is that he has created such a divide in people that for as many who feel despair, there are just as many who celebrate his being POTUS. This still amazes me. I say that not because I don’t understand how people can feel left behind, not because I don’t understand how people are voting based on their belief system, not that I don’t understand that everyone has a right to vote and do so as they see fit. I understand those things. But this. This is perplexing to me. Never, in my opinion, have we seen this kind of POTUS. One who is so entirely invested in himself. What’s perplexing is how people aren’t seeing this. The man is an egotistical, petulant man-child. He is unable to receive feedback of any kind (unless it agrees with him or praises him). How do you propose to run a country when you want to literally cut off communication with any person or outlet that doesn’t agree with you? How do you propose communicating your agenda and plans to the people of this country (not just your voter base) when you can’t answer hard questions but rather, walk out of interviews when the questions get hard? Well, simple, you mimic other dictators who cut off the press or create outlandish accusations about those that don’t support them and replace it with propaganda and alternative universes. Essentially, he creates his very own fake news.
As recently as a couple days ago, Trump stood in front of the NRA pledging his undying loyalty and promising to protect people’s 2nd amendment rights. And in that same time frame, had his administration look into ways in which he could sue the press when he doesn’t like what they say about him and ways to limit people’s 1st amendment rights. Let me provide you with a gun but take away your words. The man speaks of chocolate cake in the same sentence he mentions bombing Syria. Granted, every POTUS has a learning curve. Heck, any new position that any of us assumes has a learning curve. However, there are usually some prerequisites before we are thrown into the fire. 5th grade history might need to become a new requirement before being elected POTUS. So might some sort of basic mastery over the English language. Conflict resolution outside of “mine”, “wrong”, or “fake news” might be a useful tool, as well. But, now I’m just being nit-picky.
I struggle with the fact that there is so much greed and self interest in our political system that we have politicians, voters and companies willing to overlook the most glaring of issues all in the name of saving face, making a buck, securing their seat at the table, creating handouts for cronies, ensuring loyalty to their party line, and a laundry list of other items. In Trump’s case, it is as though common sense was thrown out the window and replaced with massive, almost poisonous, doses of delusions of grandeur.
Let’s put party lines aside for a minute. Here’s what pisses me off as a human: complicit acceptance of bad behavior, not holding people accountable, lying, doing something in your own self interest while knowing you will harm someone else, thinking the rules don’t apply to you, being disrespectful, calling people names, and narcissism…just to name a few. In general, the opposite of these actions is what any sane person would expect of their children, co-worker, spouse/partner, friend, or stranger (respect, kindness, honesty, accountability if something goes wrong, consequences, etc.). Yet, it seems to have become acceptable that people are willing to close their eyes to the craziness that is ensuing all in hopes that the one thing important to them will be resolved.
One of the constant themes I heard during the campaign was that Donald Trump is a good businessman and therefore, he is who we need to run this country. I call bullshit. Donald Trump is a good con man. He is not a good businessman. He has enough money to buy his way into things, to con people out of things, and to manipulate those that don’t know better. He makes for good TV. TV allows for editing. He has an entertainment factor in a train wreck kind of way. There are plenty of good business men/women in this world. Trump can’t even hold company with those individuals, until now. And it is solely his current position as POTUS that allows him to do so. You can see that he is filling cabinet seats with business people and cutting regulation or signing EAs to line their pockets…look into EPA, Education, Pipeline, etc. The only way he is able to hold court with them now is because he is in a situation to benefit them and demand their attention in turn. Something he gravely desires.
As a leader, I make it a point to surround myself with people smarter than me. They make me better. Trump, on the other hand, gets rid of anyone he thinks might have more expertise than him so that he can continue to proclaim that he is the smartest person in the room. Actually, he doesn’t care about one’s level of expertise, he simply claims he is the smartest person in the room at all times regardless. I think he is hoping to convince himself that if he says it enough, it will become true. I have a sad truth to share with him…never gonna happen, man.
As a business person, and as a human, below are a few (I am limiting this because we could fill a book with this shit, and we are only 100 days in…) things that irk me about our current situation and the hypocrisy that abounds:
- Russia. Why are we ignoring the chance that Russia may have been involved in our election process? To me, this should merit a full blown independent investigation. Whether someone is R or D, Russia is not a country to be poo-pooed. Hell, companies sue each other and send cease and desist letters when they even think a competitor is doing something that impedes there space. People should be worried at the thought of Russia impeding our space and any ties to those in our administration. Whether you are R or D, conduct the investigation. Why would we hide from it, distract from it, or try to twist it? Investigate, just like any company would do if an employee were alleged of wrongdoing. If nothing is found to substantiate the claims, close the case and move on. If something is found to substantiate the case, hold people accountable and fix it.
- Conflicts of Interest. Where do I even begin? As a former Chief Compliance Officer, every public company I’ve ever worked for has a conflicts of interest policy and ethical standards. Family members could not report to family members. People had to recuse themselves if they were making decisions that could impact current investments they had, companies they owned, boards they sat on, etc. It is often complicated, that is no different here. But don’t run for office if you are not willing to follow the rules and standards of the position. There isn’t a more blatant display of conflicts of interest than we have occurring in the White House at present. Trump’s son-in-law and daughter have been appointed as his advisers all while running their own businesses. Seems coincidental that as they travel to foreign countries or meet with heads of countries, business seems to follow…patents for Trump (38 to be specific) from China after a recent visit. Keep in mind that prior to him being President, these same patents had been denied. As recently as last week, Trump invited the President of the Philippines (Duterte) for a visit to the White House. If you are unfamiliar with Duterte or the relationship between the US and Philippines with him in office, it is contentious. Did I mention that Trump is opening a $150 million dollar property in the Philippines in which Ivanka Trump is shown on the advertisement? Oh, wait, isn’t she one of his appointed special advisers? Look away and you might not see the conflicts. Yes, my sarcasm is oozing but I can’t in my right mind, figure out how anyone thinks his dealings are ethical. Whether they cross a legal threshold or not (and I don’t claim to know either way), the nature of his dealings and that of his family should raise red flags. It should have people concerned as to whether he can actually run this country in the interest of the people vs the interest of his business and the Trump name. Let’s face it, whether he does anything as POTUS for the American people or not, he and the Trump empire are raking it in. Between the visibility the brand is getting to the tax dollars alone from Trump using his own property to hold meetings. And everything in-between. Trump cares about Trump. Period.
- Campaigning for 2020. WTF? Before he even reached his 90 day mark, Trump registered to campaign for 2020. This allows him to generate money from donors as well as limit those that attend his functions to people who actually support him. While he is clearly allowed to do this, it again demonstrates his level of greed, narcissism and delusion. Do your fucking job before you start campaigning to stay in the role. Oh wait, he can’t focus on doing his job because the only thing he focuses on is comparing himself to Hillary or Obama or anyone else for that matter. True leadership has no pride of ownership. That is lost on him. He wants to own and take credit for everything. Until it goes south; then he is more than willing to pass blame, fire someone, or distract. Spend your time at the oval office lessening the learning curve and getting to know what is required of you. Stop campaigning to inflate your sense of self worth. The election is over, leave the campaign trail for another day, put the golf clubs down, and get to work. Did I mention that he recently launched a campaign ad to promote his successful first 100 days? A campaign ad! He is the current POTUS…what is he doing running a campaign ad? The election is over. Oh, that’s right, he’s partnering with the swamp, I mean Koch, brothers who keep putting money in his coffers so they can influence the decisions he makes regarding regulation that impact their companies.
- People. The American People. We are a whole. Not just the voters who elected Trump. I am tired of hearing supporters claim that anyone who opposes Trump is a sore loser or a ‘snowflake’. Maybe you should tell Trump that the election is over and for him to move forward as well. I am not holding any grudges that Trump won, that’s what elections are for. I am appalled, though, at the willingness to stoop so low in dismissing his lack of character. Clinton’s affairs and behavior was thrown from here to kingdom come during the campaign, but we are going to simply allow a man with 5 children from 3 different baby momma’s who has had multiple affairs and sexual harassment allegations to waltz right in. Can you imagine if that same statement had been made about Obama…5 children from 3 different baby momma’s and multiple affairs…? The world would have had a hissy fit. Yet, people are still defending Trump’s character, or making excuses at a minimum. Additionally, an entertainment reporter lost his job for partaking in a rude, classless, disrespectful conversation with Trump about grabbing women by the pussies, attempting to kiss married women, etc. but we allow Trump to waltz right in and again dismiss his behavior as “locker room”. Fox finally fired O’Reilly for inappropriate sexual harassment allegations after spending 13M to settle the claims. Sadly, the same hypocrisy was alive and well for O’Reilly that exists for Trump. O’Reilly wasn’t fired due to his inappropriate actions. He was fired because Fox began losing money because of his actions and couldn’t afford to shield him anymore. The money became more important. They left him in while he raked it in and let him go when he didn’t. Other elected officials were removed from their positions for saying racist, heinous things about others. Trump is dismissed with the wave of a hand and commentary such as “don’t believe what he says, pay attention to what he does”. Are you kidding me? That is not a person I would follow or support. So lay off the “this is the POTUS and you must respect him”. I don’t succumb that easily. I highly respect the position of POTUS. I do not have to respect the person in that position if they can’t demonstrate respect themselves. Anyway you dress it up, a pig is still a pig.
- Hatred. I am so saddened by the escalation of hateful rhetoric, crimes and other. Yes, we have long standing systemic issues related to race and religion in this country that desperately need to be addressed. People will debate all day long that Trump didn’t create the hatred. If you are really paying attention, however, you cannot deny that his rhetoric towards women, Mexicans, people of color, Muslims, Jews, etc., has inspired those who wholeheartedly believe their world is being taken over by these same people. With appointments of people like Bannon, and Trump’s unwillingness to authentically denounce people like Spencer or David Duke, he supports the hatred with his silence. As the leader of a free country, what you do and don’t say matters. It creates guidance that others follow. If nothing else, his behavior has magnified that America hasn’t come as far as we hoped. The level of fear the white christian population has over losing their jobs or superior standing by someone of color or a different gender is tangible. And sadly, I’m pretty sure that Jesus would be appalled at the number of Christians literally hiding behind their bibles as they continue to judge others and cast hate upon those not like them. You want to cry out that being gay is a sin yet you are standing behind a POTUS who has also sinned through infidelity. You don’t get to prioritize the level of sin you choose to forgive if you are truly going to go down that road. You can’t have it both ways, people. What we should really be concerned about is how are we going to help those whose jobs have been eliminated due to automation or other causes, not race or religion or gender. How do we provide trade education to ensure that the American population can fill jobs as the world changes around us? How do we create an environment in which people have the ability to survive? Seems working to find a solution would be more productive than banning people, calling people names, killing people or further marginalizing people due to fear. As much damage as that can create and might make some feel better in the short term (which is very sad), it has a proven track record of not being sustainable. Let’s not wait. And for those who need to hear it, everybody has a seat at my table. Door is always open. We can pour a cup of coffee and discuss…even if we don’t agree.
If you’ve made it to this point in reading the post, thanks for sticking around! To close it out, let me share a recent event with you. I was taking a walk with one of my daughters the other day. We came upon some litter. She went to pick it up and said to me “Why do people do this? There is all this talk about saving the planet and protecting our earth, but nobody wants to do the work. They expect someone else to do it. We all need to do it.” Profound words from a 10 year old. And ones we all could learn from. To make things better, we each have to be part of it. If you wait for it to directly impact you, it will be too late.
My daughter gives me hope that human decency will win in the end.